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Commentary: Obama should be more open to reporters

  • Story Highlights
  • Brown: Obama shouldn't brush off reporters asking about Blagojevich
  • Reporter asks question about Senate seat and Illinois governor
  • Obama campaigned on directness and openness, Brown says
  • That means he doesn't get to dismiss any question he doesn't like, she says
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By Campbell Brown
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Editor's note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN's "Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the "Cutting through the Bull" segment of Wednesday night's broadcast.

CNN's Campbell Brown says it's the media's job to be annoying to the president-elect.

CNN's Campbell Brown says it's the media's job to be annoying to the president-elect.

(CNN) -- It goes without saying, the media is annoying. It is the media's job to be annoying. Especially those members of the media assigned to cover the president. Or in this case the president-elect.

Their role is not to support President-elect Barack Obama, but to challenge him, to do their best to hold him accountable.

This week the media is no doubt annoying Obama with daily questions about Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat and the role of certain members of Obama's team. Here was the exchange he had Tuesday with a reporter from the Chicago Tribune:

John McCormick: You told us at your first press conference after the election that you were going to take a very hands-off approach to filling that spot. Over the weekend, The Tribune reported that Rahm Emanuel, your incoming chief of staff, had presented a list of potential names. Video Watch Campbell Brown's commentary »

Obama: John, let me just cut you off, because I don't want you to waste your question. As I indicated yesterday, we've done a full review of this. The facts are going to be released next week. It would be inappropriate for me to comment, because the -- for example, the story that you just talked about in your own paper, I haven't confirmed that it was accurate, and I don't want to get into the details at this point. So do you have another question?

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Mr. President-elect, this is the second time I have observed you doing this. Cutting off a reporter because the question didn't suit you.

Mr. President-elect, this sort of approach reminds a lot of us of the current administration now packing up to go, and it frankly doesn't fly in a democracy.

You don't get to choose the questions you get asked at a news conference.

That's not the way it works, even with a media that many believe has been more than friendly toward you, which makes it all the more surprising that you could act testy, annoyed or intolerant of any question you get.

You have an extraordinarily high approval rating right now. People in this country who voted against you are pulling for you.

These are desperate times for many Americans and most of this country wants you to succeed. But you will not succeed if you discard the very ideals you promoted during your campaign: directness, honesty, candor, transparency, openness.

You've made a deal with the prosecutor to keep a lid on certain information about this investigation until next week. Fine.

But that doesn't give you a blanket excuse to dismiss any and all questions associated with Blagojevich or anything else.


You are the one who embraced openness, and you could stand to be a little more open to it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Campbell Brown.

All About Rod Blagojevich

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